Most nerds loathe, shun, and shirk physical activities. In this aspect of nerdhood, my personality strays away from the norm somewhat; I don't hate using my body, and under the right conditions, I enjoy it. I hate lifting weights and moving furniture (because those are repetitive activities), but I enjoy jumping around and using my environment (it's fun to figure out how to best clear an obstacle). My parents tell me that when I was very young they used to find me in the weirdest places (including display windows, dangerously high plant fixtures, and, later, rooftops).
Parkour was "invented" (read: given its current name) by David Belle when he and his friends played around in Lisses, a French suburb. It is a sport where the goal is to move fluidly and fast over physical obstacles (like fences, benches, gaps, holes, cars, and even rooftops), and it's a plus if the movement is also elegant (think Jackie Chan minus the martial arts). In this respect parkour is somewhat similar to gymnastics, and while it certainly borrows from it, things like backflips and handstands, while fairly impressive, isn't considered parkour by some practitioners. (I make an exception if the feat contributes to the fluidity and speed of a particular move.)
When practicing parkour, as is true when doing anything physically demanding, it's easy to hurt yourself. Therefore, take some precautions. For intstance, it should be obvious that you should warm up beforehand and stretch when you're done. In addition, here are some parkour-specific tips:
- You are not David Belle. David Belle is insanely fit, and trying to imitate him if your physique is below his is dumb. Therefore, do not try to jump gaps that he clears seemingly easily.
- Check your obstacles for deficiencies before doing anything to them. If you're planning on vaulting a fence, test its sturdiness. If it's loose, you're in for a surprise.
- If it's wet or icy outside, stay inside and play Half-Life 2. Falling hurts.
- Don't try something you're not confident you can do. In particular, don't let your peers talk you into doing something you're not confident you can do.
- Don't let passers-by scare you. You will get weird looks. Deal with it. :-)
October 24, 2004
These are images of Andreas and me doing parkour in Stavanger.
These are quasi-ads for parkour that Andreas and I made. It should be noted that I'm indifferent to and ignorant about the skating culture, and I chose to make fun of it simply because parkour is often described as skating without a skateboard.